In three of Ray Allen's four games since returning from injury last week, the Celtics guard has come off the bench. It's a departure for one of the league's best shooters ever and a player who was a star for many years, but also the sort of thing that a professional like Allen does for the good of the team. As was reported last week, he requested to come off the bench, largely to accomodate young guard Avery Bradley, who had excelled in his absence.
"I don't think it can happen for me to ultimately be comfortable with these 11 or so games we have left because none of us are getting into routines as far as settling in and what are roles are, getting practice time, understanding rotations and chemistry," Allen said prior to the Celtics 103-79 win over the Philadelphia 76ers in which he scored 10 points in 28 minutes off the bench. "You just adapt the best way you can."
Allen goes on to discuss coming off the bench in the context of his career — he's a free agent this summer — but it's clear that most of his concern with this particular situation relates to the messiness of the compressed schedule. Without practice time or an extended period to ease into a new rotation, the Celtics have to figure things out during games. That's particularly tough on Allen, who's been used to one routine for more than a decade. Everyone has to adjust, but he has to do the most work.
It'd be easy to complain, but these Celtics have always been at their best when they put aside petty arguments and act as professionally as possible. It's a sign of maturity. Based on standards of seniority, Allen could very well claim his starting spot and expect Bradley to return to the bench. But that's not what's best for Boston right now.
Whether or not it's a good decision for Allen as he searches for a new contract is another question. But trusting that things will work out and trying to maximize his team's production in the short term could end up as the best thing for his future, too. Only time will tell.